Rare spider brings Texas highway project to dead stop
The discovery of a rare species of spider has stalled construction on a multi-million dollar highway project in San Antonio, Texas, NBC News reports.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen it in 30 years,” said Molly Keck, an entomologist at Texas A&M University. “A lot of people thought this guy was extinct, and he just showed up, so it’s kind of exciting in the biological world.”
The lone dime-sized spider, found in a hole in the ground, is part of a federally-protected species commonly known as the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver.
According to The San Antonio Express-News, the discovery of the spider in the path of a $15.1 million construction project on the city’s Northwest side connecting state route 151 and state highway loop 1604 means the entire plan will have to be redesigned.
The contractor working on the project, Ballenger Construction, has been released, and any new plan for connecting the two roads will have to be approved by both the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the meantime, the state department of transportation has been asked to look for potential habitats for more Meshweaver spiders.
A spokesperson for the department, Josh Donat, told the newspaper that it’s fortunate that the spider was found on the site of a planned highway median, and not in one of the proposed lanes for what is conceived as a multi-lane underpass.
“The find came at the right time to have something like this happen,” Donat said. “We aren’t in the way, we aren’t holding people up. Traffic’s still the same as it’s been the last six months, 10 months. But it’s not any worse. That’s a huge victory.”
Watch a report on the project, aired Monday on The Today Show, below.